Open Source: The Key to SaaS Success

I came across this article on Forbes.com entitled “Kill the Data Center,” which as the title suggests, is about the pros and cons of hosting software. The author provides an excellent Q&A with Doug Harr, the CIO of open source database vendor Ingres.

All-in-all, the interview has some great tidbits of info about the decision-making that should take place when considering outsourcing a mission-critical application to a vendor, and supports a point I’ve made in the pass here on CRMOutsiders: Customers are looking for shear flexibility in their business applications, both in terms of deployment models and the ability to integrate and customize the application to fit their unique needs.

That point is underscored by Harr in the interview, which ironically enough, leverages Salesforce.com for their CRM needs. And while Harr says Ingres is currently happy using Salesforce.com, being able to customize and integrate SaaS software “didn’t always used to be the case.” The key, he says, has been the adoption of open source standards and architectures at the infrastructure level by SaaS providers over the last few years.

While they still don’t offer the degree of flexibility that an open source application vendor does, and while I’d hardly call Salesforce.com or other SaaS providers open source (which remains a loosely-coined term by many of our competitors), I’m glad to see that the CRM vendor market has finally learned its lesson, and has picked up on some of the concepts and trends SugarCRM established so many years ago.

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